The Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets may meet in the second round of the NBA playoffs and from what we’ve seen over the course of the four regular season games, it will be one hell of series.
With the exception of one game (though, even that went to overtime), all the games in 2013-14 were decided by one point, and the last meeting was just as thrilling. This time around rookie Mason Plumlee stuffed LeBron James dunk attempt to seal the tie at the death, much to the King’s dismay.
“It was a foul,” said James when asked about the closing play. “That’s my thought. I should have been at the line.”
Coach Erik Spoelstra concurred, “That opportunity right there at the rim — it was a foul from my vantage point, but what can you do?”
Was it a foul? Probably. Joe Johnson did appear to swipe LeBron’s left arm and “Plums” pretty much gave him a high five as he went up for the dunk, but to be honest, the Heat shouldn’t have even allowed the game to get to that point.
Sure, they have been hot since the turn of the year (33-13, fourth best record in the NBA), but the Heat simply didn’t do enough.
With Dwyane Wade missing his 26th game of the season and seventh in a row, the responsibility was always going to fall on James to carry the team and he did his part, coming up with 29 points, 10 rebounds and six dimes. But no one else made the step up.
As the third member of the Big Three, Chris Bosh naturally would be the one to turn to as the “Robin” to LeBron’s “Batman” with Wade out, but he was almost invisible on the night. He was great as usual on defense, but offensively he barely made an impact as he finished with just 12 points.
None of his four attempts from deep found the mark and missed a 3-pointer that would have given Miami an 85-84 lead with a minute and a half left in the fourth. Plus, he simply couldn’t wheel himself to the foul line either, finishing the game with just three freethrow attempts.
Mario Chalmers didn’t cover himself in glory either but he contributed seven points and had five assists, though he, too, could have been more forceful, just as he was against Minnesota and New York, where he scored a total of 39 points and shot 16 times from the charity stripe.
Granted there’s some nit-picking there, but the point still remains; they should have been more aggressive with Wade out, especially Bosh. The fact that he has surpassed the 15 point mark just twice in the last seven games is something that should be improved upon. Otherwise it’s like the LeBron James Cleveland Cavaliers all over again.
To make matters worse, the Miami Heat were outrebounded yet again despite Jason Kidd essentially fielding four guards with Johnson, Paul Pierce and Shaun Livingston lining up alongside Deron Williams and Plumlee.
The obvious excuse for that would be the injuries to the Heat’s frontline so Spoelstra couldn’t turn to his big rotation to help inside. Udonis Haslem was out because of a virus, Greg Oden missed his fifth straight game due to problems with his back and the Birdman managed to power through several ailments to provide five rebounds in 19 minutes of action. Then again that begs the question, with all the injuries, why not give Justin Hamilton a crack at the whip? Or even Michael Beasley who has seen just 14 minutes of action in the last seven games.
Nevertheless, even though it gives the Indiana Pacers a chance to close the gap at the top of the Eastern Conferece, it’s not all doom and gloom. Second place may even be a good thing if they can’t figure out a way to beat the Brooklyn Nets.
And failing to beat them in four attempts (six if you count the preseason) still shouldn’t be too worrying if the two teams happen to meet in the Playoffs. After all, it’s not the first time they’ve been swept or lost heavily in a season series. And the previous times it has happened, they have come back to gain revenge in the playoffs – with the 2011 NBA champions Dallas Mavericks being the only exception.
The Chicago Bulls (0-3) and Boston Celtics (1-3) in 2010-11, Boston (1-3) in 2011-12, New York Knicks (1-3) all got the better of the Miami Heat during the regular season and all got ousted in the playoffs.